Training Camp Report: Day 18

The Redskins are anxious to see Ladell Betts. And Betts is anxious to prove to them he can still play. Betts likely will play against St. Louis on Friday, his first action of the preseason, and it's doubtful he's playing for a roster spot. But it's definite that the coaches want to see him do something. And they want to see him do it in a game.

''It's very important for him and for us to get him out there and see how he is,'' Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said.

Betts has not played in the first three preseason games because of a hamstring injury. This follows a broken forearm that cost him more than half of 2003. Which followed an elbow injury that sidelined him for three weeks last summer.

Get the picture? But Betts said he's not injury-prone.

''Last year was rough for me,'' Betts said. ''But this is not a major injury. It's frustrating because I can't get out there, but there's nothing I can do about it. There's no use crying about it.''

''He needs to go in and make plays,'' running backs coach Earnest Byner said. ''And get through the game, show some sharpness. I know he'll have some rust on him. But just be a contributor, that's what I'm looking for. He has the athletic ability, the mental focus. His conscientiousness is something I love.'' What Betts likes is the offense. Though he was drafted because he supposedly fit into Steve Spurrier's offense, Gibbs' actually is better for him.

''I consider myself a tough runner,'' Betts said. ''I like to get between the tackles. This offense is what I'm used to, a lot of downhill stuff. Coach believes in running and the line wants to block for us. That's my style: smashmouth football.''

. . . Official cuts don't need to be made until Tuesday, but don't be surprised if the Redskins make their first big round of cuts this weekend, possibly on Saturday. Usually the first round contains few surprises, but at some point one of the running backs must get cut.

. . . There's a reason Joe Bugel looks so much better these days than he did a decade ago. The man is a fitness nut. After practice today he walked the width of the field, going down and back every 5-10 yards as he snaked his way down the field. Then he'd do pushups in the end zone. After that, he walked the length of the field, do pushups, then walk back. He was probably on the field a good 30 minutes after practice had ended.

. . . The following players won't make the trip to St. Louis for Friday's game against the Rams: linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), linebacker Mike Barrow (knee), defensive end Phillip Daniels (abdominal strain), offensive lineman Dwayne Morgan (knee), tight end Fred Baxter (knee), corner Walt Harris (knee/calf) and linebacker Chris Clemons (hamstring).

. . . The Redskins say they're not yet concerned about Barrow. But I'll say it: I have strong doubts he'll make it through the season. And you have to wonder if he'll be able to play in the majority of games. That's one reason Antonio Pierce could become a key player this season.

. . . Arrington says he's ready. The coaches say hold on.

''I thought I would get the opportunity to prove I'm able to play,'' he said. ''But they're not giving me that chance. I have to be obedient.''


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